I recently had the pleasure of speaking in front of the Cape Coral RAFC and questions about line, knots and leaders, mainly for tarpon, dominated the seminar.
Let's go over some basic rigs.
Mono - my basic set-up is 50 pound Berkeley Big Game mono on a 3/0-4/0 sized conventional reel mounted to a 7 1/2 to 8 foot tarpon rod. If I'm fishing heavy structure (bridges) in dark water or at night I may go as heavy as a 10 feet long 125150 pound test leader. When fishing clear, open water, such as along the outside barrier islands, I'll drop down to 60 pound test fluorocarbon material.
Capt. George Tunison
Braided lines - on my tarpon spinning outfits I'm fishing 65 pound Power Pro on a 7 1/2 to 8 foot rod.
Tarpon hook choices are as numerous as opinions on which is the best hook to use. In the past I always favored a plain #6-#8 offset J hook from Owner. Years ago I got on the circle hook bandwagon and now only use Owner #9 or #10 circle hooks.
I believe the Cape Coral Tarpon Club recommends a larger 13/014/0 Mustad circle hook. I won't argue with all the combined tarpon experience in that fine club, but I will add that circle hooks are the only way to go to help preserve these sometimes 50-plus year-old gamefish.
How do I add my leader to my line? When fishing large dead baits on the bottom I'll tie my doubled main line to a high quality SPRO swivel (130 pound to 240 pound test), then the leader to the swivel. If I'm fishing live ladyfish I'll also use a SPRO swivel, especially at night.
Daytime I'll double a few feet of my main line with a Bimini Twist or a Uni Bimini Twist, then add the leader to the main doubled line with a "no-name knot." All of these knots are thoroughly covered in picture and animation on netknots.com which is a great angler resource.
Why a doubled main line? Simply to help cushion the blow of a hard striking fish like a tarpon. Often you will catch a tarpon and one strand of the doubled line will be broken. That's a fish that would have never been caught on a single line. Doubling the line increases your chances of staying connected to these powerful fish.
There are several knots to use to create a doubled main line. A few are good and easier to tie than the Bimini Twist, but according to testing all will tend to weaken during a prolonged fight, all except the Bimini knot. If you are too lazy to learn the Bimini then go to Vic Dunaway's book called, "Baits, Rigs and Tackle" (available everywhere) and learn the easier-to-tie Uni Bimini Twist.
Line doubling isn't only for big game fishing and can be used by light line anglers as well to decrease breakoffs. Double a few feet of your main line then add your leader, hook or lure and go fishing.
Another great way to tie a heavy leader to light line is with the Albright Special which is also a great knot to add a piece of wire to your leader. Power Pro recommends doubling their line before tying it and also recommends passing it through a hook eye twice before securing it with your favorite knot.
Always make sure your braid to mono connection is correct as some braid to mono knots will slip because braid is super slippery. Don't find that out after the fact.
For a resident new to the area joining a local club like these will greatly improve your knowledge base which is the key to catching fish under all conditions and you will meet some fine folks to boot.
Please wear your PFD's
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.flyingfinssportfishing,com.